Eye health is one of the most important aspects of overall health. Eye disorders like cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration are more common today than ever before.
With increased exposure to the damaging blue light associated with screentime, our eyes are more at risk today than ever before. Some eye diseases do not have a cure, which makes prevention and protection the best defense.
There are certain nutrients that have been proven to benefit your eyes. Some nourish the eyes, while others protect them from damage.
The sharp eyesight of humans requires a lot of energy, so eyes have a high metabolic rate. Free radicals are natural byproducts of metabolic processes, so this leaves eyes at significant risk for oxidative damage.
When looking to boost eye health or prevent serious damage, there are important foods to consume.
Vitamin C is one of the best nutrients for eye health. This essential vitamin supports the health of the blood vessels that serve the eyes. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and limes, are packed full of vitamin C. Regular intake of these fruits can help reduce the risk of common eye conditions.
Both macular degeneration and cataracts are common in the aging eye. Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries in the country, and half of these can be averted with daily doses of vitamin C. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness, and while there is no cure, vitamin C has been proven to slow its progress.
Oranges are also packed with lutein and zeaxanthin. These two compounds are especially beneficial for protecting the eyes from blue light. Blue light damage is more common today as a result of increased screen time.
Blue light is also the most damaging to the retina, as it is able to penetrate through to the back of the eye. Lutein and zeaxanthin both prevent damage by blue light and protect the retina from degeneration.
Some berries, like strawberries, also contain vitamin C to support eye health. Mostly, the high antioxidant content in berries is proven to reduce eye diseases and promote healthier vision. The high metabolic rate of the eyes means exposure to free radicals. The risk of oxidative damage can be reduced with protective nutrients found in berries.
The antioxidants in berries not only prevents oxidative damage, but it also prevents dryness and other common symptoms. Blueberries, in particular, contain powerful antioxidants that are also vasoprotective, which helps to maintain the strength of the blood vessels in the eye. They also prevent blockages in retinal arteries, thus reducing the risk of retinal damage and disease.
Tropical fruits such as banana and mango are also beneficial to eye health. Bananas contain carotenoids that protect the surface of the eye, which is essential for clear vision. Other tropical fruits like mango, are full of vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential vitamin for eye health, reducing dryness and preventing night blindness.
Fruits are not the only beneficial ingredients to protect your vision. Several eye-protecting nutrients can be found in vegetables, nuts, and seeds too.
♦ Spinach: This dark leafy green is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two essential nutrients found in the macula. These compounds protect the macula from oxidative damage, therefore, improving vision long-term. Macular degeneration is responsible for irreversible blindness. Both lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of developing this condition and slow its progression.
♦ Kale: Like spinach, kale is a health-boosting leafy green vegetable. Kale also contains high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin to protect your eyes. As part of a regular diet, kale can protect the aging eye from common age-related disorders. Beyond protection, these carotenoids promote the health of the retina to maintain good vision.
♦ Flaxseed: Flaxseed contains ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a form of omega-3 fatty acid. This is converted in the body to small amounts of the active omega-3s, DHA and EPA. These essential fatty acids are ideal for nourishing the eye and preventing conditions like dry eye. Research has found that DHA strongly preserves vision.
Promoting eye health and protecting your vision is easier than you may think. With a few key ingredients and a blender, you can have delicious, nutritious, eye-healthy smoothies. Each recipe below serves two.
1. Orange Apricot Smoothie
6 fresh apricots-medium size, pitted
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 large oranges)
1 cup plain kefir or yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2-4 ice cubes
Place all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend on high speed until completely smooth. Divide into two glasses and serve right away. Enjoy.
2. Banana Blueberry Smoothie
1 ripe banana
2 kale leaves, stems removed
1 cup blueberries
2 cups pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth, about 45 to 60 seconds. Chill briefly if desired. Serve immediately.
3. Very Berry Smoothie
2 cups mixture of blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries
¼ cup almond milk (can substitute organic soy, rice, coconut or hemp milk)
½ cup unsweetened cranberry juice
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
In a heavy-duty blender, add the ingredients, secure the lid, and blend until smooth.
4. Mango Green Smoothie
1 ½ cups frozen mango pieces
1 ripe banana, cut into chunks
1 cup spinach
3/4 cup almond milk
Place all ingredients in your blender. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
Your eyesight is one of your most important senses, with 80 percent of what we perceive coming from what we see. Protecting your eyes reduces the risk of eye diseases and blindness.
Many eye conditions cannot be cured, but prevention is not as hard as you think. Regular eye examinations and an eye-healthy diet will protect your vision and prevent chronic diseases. Keep an eye on your future, and start making nutritious and delicious smoothies today.